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Sharp increase in coronavirus deaths and cases


Sharp increase in coronavirus deaths and cases

Some 242 deaths from the new coronavirus were recorded in the Chinese province of Hubei on Wednesday - the deadliest day of the outbreak. There was also a huge increase in the number of cases, with 14,840 people diagnosed with the virus.

Hubei has started using a broader definition to diagnose people - which accounts for most of the rise in cases.

Until Wednesday's increases, the number of people diagnosed in Hubei - where the outbreak emerged - was stabilising. But the new cases and deaths in the province have pushed the national death toll above 1,350 - with almost 60,000 cases in total.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party secretary in Hubei, Jiang Chaoliang, has been replaced by the Shanghai party chief, Ying Yong, according to state media. It is the first major change of Hubei party officials since the outbreak began.

Earlier this week, a number of health officials were "removed" from their jobs.

What is the latest with the cruise ships?

A cruise ship carrying more than 2,000 people has docked in Cambodia - after it was turned away by five countries over fears that some passengers might be infected with the virus. The MS Westerdam arrived on Thursday morning after Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand had all refused to accept the ship - despite having no sick patients on board.

Cambodia's decision to welcome the ship was praised by the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO).

It was "an example of the international solidarity we have consistently been calling for", Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said.

Meanwhile, another 44 cases have been confirmed on the Diamond Princess, which is in quarantine in Yokohama, Japan. The increase means 218 people of the 3,700 people on board the ship have caught the virus. Not everyone has been tested yet.

People with the virus are taken to hospitals on land to be treated, while those on board are largely confined to their cabins.

In other developments:

* The world's largest mobile phone showcase, Mobile World Congress, has been cancelled, organisers in the Spanish city of Barcelona have confirmed

* The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said it was preparing for the coronavirus to possibly "take a foothold in the U.S". Thirteen cases have been confirmed in the U.S.

* About 300 employees have been evacuated from Singapore's biggest bank, DBS, after one person fell ill with the coronavirus. All 300 had been working on the same floor and were sent home

* Formula 1's Chinese Grand Prix, due to take place in Shanghai on Apr 19, has been postponed

* In its latest measure to try to halt the spread, China said it would stagger the return of children to school. Several provinces have closed schools until the end of February

- Source: News websites

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